Low at My Problem Bending by Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

"LOW AT MY PROBLEM BENDING" by Emily Dickinson is a succinct exploration of human struggle and the relentless nature of challenges. Through the speaker's internal dialogue, the poem highlights the way in which new, more complex problems can arise just as one seems to grapple with an existing issue. The poem suggests a sense of humility in the face of life's difficulties and raises questions about the significance of individual struggles.


Low at my problem bending,
Another problem comes —
Larger than mine — Serener —
Involving statelier sums.
I check my busy pencil,
My figures file away.
Wherefore, my baffled fingers
Thy perplexity?


"LOW AT MY PROBLEM BENDING" delves into the nature of challenges and the sense of being overwhelmed by life's problems. The poem expresses the idea that no matter how diligently we address one problem, another, larger and more complex, inevitably emerges. The speaker's questioning of their own efforts underscores the universal experience of grappling with the vastness of life's issues.

Critical Analysis

The poem "LOW AT MY PROBLEM BENDING" addresses the relentless nature of challenges and the human tendency to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing magnitude of problems.

The opening lines "Low at my problem bending, / Another problem comes" create a sense of ongoing struggle and frustration. The arrival of a "larger" and "Serener" problem suggests that challenges can feel unending and overwhelming.

The phrase "Involving statelier sums" hints at the idea that these new challenges are more complex and require even greater consideration. This underscores the notion that life's problems often grow in scope and complexity.

The speaker's reference to their "busy pencil" and "figures" being filed away suggests a futile attempt to make sense of these challenges through logical analysis or calculation. The final line, "Wherefore, my baffled fingers / Thy perplexity?" indicates the speaker's recognition of their own limitations in the face of the vastness of life's difficulties.


  • Human Struggle: The poem explores the inherent struggle in facing life's challenges and the feeling of being overwhelmed by their continuous emergence.
  • Relentless Nature of Problems: The poem emphasizes how new, larger problems can arise just as one tries to address an existing issue.
  • Humility: The speaker's acknowledgment of their "baffled fingers" and inability to fully comprehend the scope of the challenges reflects humility in the face of life's complexities.


  • Frustration: The poem conveys a sense of frustration and exasperation as new problems continue to emerge.
  • Acceptance of Limitations: The speaker's questioning and humility demonstrate their awareness of their own limitations in understanding and solving all of life's problems.


  • Imagery: The imagery of the speaker "bending" and "busy pencil" creates a visual representation of the act of grappling with problems.
  • Contrast: The contrast between the initial problem and the subsequent larger problem emphasizes the overwhelming nature of challenges.

Reflect on your own experiences with challenges and the way in which new problems seem to arise just as you address existing ones. How do you approach these situations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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